Battlefield 4 – DICE talk shooter fatigue & PS4 touchpad grenade “flicking”
Bigger doesn’t always mean better. So while it may not do the numbers of Activision’s mega-franchise, DICE’s take on multiplayer warfare, Battlefield 4, is often thought of as the critic’s choice. One for the purist, it values teamwork and tactics over twitch shooting and teabagging. Such an approach has garnered it a justifiably large and passionate community – and a reputation to uphold as we move to PS4. So who better to explain how to win the online war than multiplayer producer Aleksander Grondal.
OPM: Battlefield 4 will be released on both major Sony consoles. How, then, are you guys finding developing for PS4 compared to PS3?
Battlefield 4′s multiplayer producer Aleksander Grondal
Aleksander Grondal: For us, it’s not that much of a difference really. We have a scaleable engine – it was already ‘next-gen ready’, if you will, when we shipped Battlefield 3. We do parallel development for all platforms, so, for us, [moving on to PS4] is not really that big of a change.
OPM: Aside from looking better, what can you do with Battlefield on PS4 that wasn’t possible on current-gen consoles?
AG: As we’ve said a few times already, 60fps and 64 players – [the latter of] which is the most important thing for many players. We’re glad that console gamers can finally experience Battlefield on a grand scale and with a higher framerate, like PC players have done for some time. Bringing that experience to the consoles is perhaps the most important upgrade. Plus, the next-gen consoles come with other nice things that we can do – connected devices, like tablets, which we haven’t been able to approach before.
OPM: This is your first foray on to PS4. How much of the hardware’s power do you think you are utilising at the moment?
AG: That’s a difficult question to answer! [Laughs.] The typical way it works with any machine is that there is a difference between the first generation of games [on a console] and the last generation of games, once you have learnt how to develop on the hardware a bit better. I’m not sure how that process relates to our game yet. I can’t look into the crystal ball and predict anything. We are optimising a lot of things to get Battlefield 4 to run at 60fps, stuff like that.
OPM: The Share button on PS4 seems like something that would be very Battlefield-friendly. Is that functionality something you are excited about?
AG: Absolutely, that’s a super cool thing for us. The ability to share has been on PCs for a few years and people have done a lot with it. So I am super excited about people sharing their Battlefield moments on PS4. It will create a much more interesting sphere of social interaction.
OPM: Killzone: Shadow Fall uses the touchpad to select weapons. Have you guys thought about using the touchpad for anything within the Battlefield world?
AG: We’ve experimented, but haven’t exactly nailed how we want it to behave just yet. Obviously flicking to throw a grenade is an option. There’s a bunch of things we’re testing out – we just haven’t settled on anything.
OPM: Battlefield has a huge multiplayer following and has been wildly successful online, and for very good reason. How much do you feel the need to evolve the elements that have made it so successful?
“We always need to keep evolving. We don’t
want to become stale, so we try to innovate
in some areas every time we make a game”
AG: We always need to keep evolving. We don’t want to become stale, so we try to innovate in some areas every time we make a game. We picked a few this time, such as Levolution and bringing back the Commander mode. Becoming stale makes it less fun for us, and ultimately we want to make fun games. Every time we ship a game we become a bit sad, because of all the things we didn’t get to do. There’s always a huge list. It’s important to us to develop new things while keeping true to the franchise.
OPM: What was top of the ‘we didn’t get to do this last time’ list ahead of Battlefield 4?
AG: Competitive gaming was one of the things we didn’t get to do properly [before]. And set-piece events, too. Caspian Border in BF3 had the antenna collapsing, which was an early idea that finally evolved its way into the game. We didn’t get to do water properly last time out – you were basically flying around on more or less a flat surface, with a bit of a bobbing animation – so that’s one of the things we brought back [and improved].